South Africa’s ANC Support Slips; Leftist EFF Backing Slumps

(Bloomberg) -- Voter support for South Africa’s ruling African National Congress slipped further before next month’s election, a new opinion poll showed, with the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters leaking votes to a new party backed by former President Jacob Zuma.

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The ANC has the support of 40.2% of voters, pollster Ipsos said in a report released on Friday. That compares with 40.5% in a survey published on Feb. 6, and 43% in October. In the last election in 2019, the ANC garnered 57.5% of the vote.

“The ANC, long the dominant force in the country’s politics, is struggling to impress voters,” Ipsos said in a statement. “Nationally, only 38% believe that the ANC will live up to their election promises.”

Support for the main opposition Democratic Alliance, which espouses pro-business economic policies, strengthened slightly to 21.9%, from 20.5% in February, the poll showed.

The rand gained as much as 1.6% after the poll was published, as investors bet it signals a market-friendly coalition will emerge from next month’s election. It traded 1.1% stronger at 18.8326 per dollar by 5:23 p.m. in Johannesburg.

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The latest poll coincided with results from 11 by-elections across South Africa this week in which the ANC retained three seats and gained one, as did the Democratic Alliance.

The Ipsos poll showed that the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe Party backed by Zuma has the support of 8.4% of voters. That compares with 11.5% for the EFF, down from 19.6% in February.

The survey adds to other recent studies that show Zuma’s party has gained support rapidly since it was launched in December. Those polls — conducted by the Social Research Foundation and the Brenthurst Foundation/SABI — estimated Zuma’s so-called MKP would garner 13% of the vote.

Zuma is drawing support mainly in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, the country’s second-most populous region, Ipsos said.

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“The emergence of MK has halted the advances made by the EFF in recent years, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, with some former EFF supporters migrating to the new party,” it said.

The poll notes that uncertainty about who to vote for is is highest in KwaZulu-Natal, where a fifth of voters remain undecided.

Ipsos surveyed 2,545 registered voters in face-to-face interviews over a period of a month, starting March 9 and continuing until April 15. Its methodology included “multi-stage stratified random selection distributed interviews” in all areas of the country, including “deep” rural areas.

The sample error for the survey was a maximum of plus or minus 1.9%.

--With assistance from Rene Vollgraaff.

(Updates rand in fifth paragraph, adds by-election results in sixth paragraph.)

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